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Election 2010: Abercrombie takes governor’s seat

Neil Abercrombie

Neil Abercrombie at the Democratic Grand Rally in Hilo Monday (Nov 1). Photo by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

An Abercrombie poster in Kona. Photo by Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7

Neil Abercrombie is Hawaii’s seventh governor.

The former U.S. Congressman and his running mate Brian Schatz won with 57.8 percent of the vote. Duke Aiona-Lynn Finnegan finished with 40.8 percent. Actual numbers: 207,640-146,587.

On a night when Republicans were making gains across the country, Hawaii voters elected a Democrat governor after eight years of Republican Linda Lingle’s administration. Aiona served as her lieutenant governor.

During his victory speech, Abercrombie, 72, called for unity after a long year of campaigning.

“We have a message,” he said. “Yes, there’s a message, not just from this campaign, but a message maybe that we can take to the mainland, where what do you see tonight? You see division. You see rancor. You see people at odds with one another. You see confrontation and conflict all over the mainland. But what you see in Hawaii tonight is unity of purpose and unity of people, because our diversity defines us and does not divide us.”

Meanwhile an emotional Aiona conceded the race at his Honolulu headquarters.

“So I said, ‘Neil, we will come together as a state, for the better of the state,'” Aiona said of his telephone call to Abercrombie. “He agreed. He said all of us will come together. But I said, ‘Neil, you will stick to your principles, I will stick to my principles,’ and likewise all of you in this room will stick to your principles because that’s what makes Hawaii and this great nation of ours so great.”

Aiona headquarters in Kona. Photo by Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7

In Kona, the Aiona headquarters were quiet with a handful of supporters and campaign volunteers watching Aiona’s speech on TV.

“I’m just so disappointed. We worked so hard on this campaign,” said Andy Smith, who has served as Lingle’s West Hawaii liaison. “All across the country, the people have elected Republicans because they want change. But in Hawaii the change will be to change back to the way things were. It’s a huge disappointment.”

Another campaign volunteer was a little more blunt.

“I’m not just disappointed. I’m pissed off,” he said. “What are the voters thinking? It wasn’t a smart choice.”

Over at Abercrombie’s Kona headquarters, the mood was lighter.

“I feel we are going to see changes. Abercrombie really is for the working people. He’s very sincere,” said Donna Urban-Higuchi.

For Urban-Higuchi, agriculture and the visitor industry are among her priorities.

“Abercrombie really believes in agriculture and going green,” she said. “He gets it and I really hope he’ll make sure all the farmers of the Big Island prosper. And I’d like to see him work on getting more international flights into Kona because that supporters our hotels and tourism industry.”

Abercrombie supporter Bitute Lanys-Wicart said she was surprised by the margin of victory.

“I believed the polls that said it was close and they were inaccurate, so when I saw the numbers, it was amazing,” she said.

“To a certain extent, this was a protest vote. We were protesting against the Linda Lingle-Duke Aiona administration. There was no possibility it would get better, so Hawaii voted for Neil,” she said. “He’s such a super, kind-hearted person and I think that really resonated with people. He’s for us.”

For complete election results, visit:

Late Tuesday, governor-elect Abercrombie issued the following statement:

Aloha ,

I am so grateful to everyone who believed and participated and made your voices heard — in every community on every island. I have never been so inspired and so appreciative of the fact that Hawaii is my home, our home.

This election was not about Neil Abercrombie.

This election was about a call for change. And I know that desire for change was in the minds of those who voted for me and those who voted for my opponents. Everyone knows that Hawaii needs to and can do better. Everyone wants to have renewed confidence that our best days are ahead of us.

Our campaign was based on a fundamental belief that government belongs to all of us. Government doesn’t exist to serve politicians or powerful interests or the loudest voices. Government exists to serve all the people, and if things are to improve, we must all take responsibility to make it so. The people of Hawaii want to come together to solve our problems and build a brighter future.

This campaign was about people, reaching out to one another, and drawing on their talents and initiative. This is how we campaigned and how we will govern.

We will work immediately to build a sustainable economy where we produce our own clean energy and grow our own healthy food. We will build an economy fueled by our entrepreneurial spirit and our unique island ingenuity; an economy filled with good-paying jobs and opportunities for our children.

We will make investments in our people and families — in their health and education beginning before birth, through early childhood, in our public schools and university system — to unlock every bit of potential in our greatest resource — our diverse island people.

We will build community, reaching out to one another, improving our understanding of each other, always seeking resolution, and forming partnerships of all kinds to serve our children, our elders, and those who have fallen on hard times.

We know Hawaii has severe challenges.

But I believe in the people of Hawaii — our perseverance, our character, our ingenuity, integrity, kindness and humanity.

The people of Hawaii have always made it through difficult times. The Polynesian forbearers of Hawaii sailed the Pacific without modern instrumentation. Those who followed toiled in plantation fields to give their children opportunities; started the businesses that became the cornerstones of our economy; defended the nation in times of war; pioneered the ideas that made life better for future generations; and fought for equality in the face of bitter discrimination.

We are resilient. We have a legacy of uniting when times are tough — our diversity is our strength.

The people of Hawaii have always counted on each other. I pledge to you tonight that you can count on me. In these next four years, I will be with you, working side-by-side with all of you as we come together to build our future together.

We are one Hawaii. Nothing can stop us — working together, caring for each other, with aloha in our hearts.


Abercrombie supporters celebrate the announcement of the final returns Tuesday night in Kona. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by John Wicart)

3 Responses to “Election 2010: Abercrombie takes governor’s seat”

  1. Maria says:

    That “blunt” campaign volunteer who thinks the voters didn’t make a smart choice should remember “furlough Fridays” and that state services to low income families, particularly DOE and DOH services, are a small fraction of what they were before the Lingle administration.

  2. Joe Adams says:

    Many years ago Neil and I raced our twin Morris Minors thru the
    golden gate tunnel to another conference (with Hal) at the No Name
    Bar in Sausalito. What sweet irony that he and Jerry Brown (both 72)
    are winners on the same night. . .

    Well done Neil . . CONGRATULATIONS. Joe Adams

  3. aloha! says:

    another great reason to move to hawaii!!!!!!!!!!
    if only i could convince my husband!
    aloha! congratulations, hawaii. good for you!


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